What are Heirloom Vegetable Seeds?
An heirloom seed is a seed that has been passed down for many years (sometimes well over 100) through family and friends. The seed varieties are kept alive because the grower feels that the plant offers something valuable...better flavor, higher yield, unusual color, etc. The fruits of each season are carefully examined and sorted so that only the seeds from the best vegetables are saved. This means that heirloom varieties today are the ones that are the best tasting, highest producers, and/or the most beautiful...lucky us! All heirloom seeds are open-pollinated; that means that the seeds can be harvested, saved, and grown the next year to produce the same fruit.
Why buy heirloom seeds? Well, compared to their genetically modified (GMO) or hybrid counterparts, heirloom varieties tend to be much more flavorful and contain more nutrients. There's not a hybrid around who can beat the flavor of freshly picked heirloom peas, beans or carrots! Some heirloom seed varieties may be a little more susceptible to disease, but with careful tending, this is usually not a problem. Heirloom varieties are also more adaptable to their surroundings and after 2 or 3 years, they will be unbeatable in your garden.
When selecting your heirloom varieties, take into account the length of your growing season. All of our heirloom varieties will grow in the continental United States. Some varieties need a longer season than others, however, and to get the best yield, you'll want to match up the shorter season/early varieties to areas where you have a shorter summer, and the heat resistant varieties to the very southern states.
The Advantages of Heirloom Vegetables
When choosing what to grow in your garden this year, gardeners have the choice of hybrids or heirlooms. We often get asked, "Why should I buy heirloom vegetables?" There are many reasons, and here we will touch on some of the best.
1) They taste so much better!! When hybrids are created, breeders are usually trying to improve production, shipping capacity or disease resistance and it is often done at the expense of taste. Heirloom varieties have been kept for generations because they are the best tasting varieties that the family had...delicious, dark red, meaty tomatoes from Italy, perfectly sweet garden peas from England, and the deep purple beets you watched your Grandmother pickle!
2) You can save the seeds from year to year. Heirlooms are open-pollinated, which means that the seeds can be harvested, dried, and planted the following year to get the same, luscious fruit. You can't do that with hybrid varieties.
3) Heirlooms are more nutritious! Studies have shown over and over again, that heirloom vegetables not only taste better...they are better for you! If you want to give your family the most nutritious vegetables you can grow, then heirlooms are for you.